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Tea Project

With Aaron Hughes

The Tea Project is an ongoing dialogue that traverses a variety of landscapes. From the tea sipped at a family gathering, to a cage in Guantanamo Bay, to a motor pool in Iraq, tea is not only a favored drink but a shared moment that transcends cultural divides and systems of oppression. When someone sits, sips, and reflects over a cup of tea there is space to ask questions about one’s relationship to the world: a world that is filled with dehumanization, war, and destruction; a world that is filled with moments of beauty, love, and humanity.

Taking as its starting point the curious love story of a Guantanamo Bay guard who fell in love with the drawings on the Styrofoam cups carved by detainees, the Tea Project is an ongoing series of exhibitions and performances that offers counter-narratives to disrupt the numbing effects of war and detention. Through the Tea Project, we create scenarios that allow audiences a role in telling the story of our current involvement in war and torture.


The installation houses 779 porcelain cast Styrofoam cups, one for each individual detained in ultra legal detention in Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp since 2001. Each cup is inscribed with a national or a native flower from the forty-eight countries of citizenship held in Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp. The cups are stories told in flowers and numbers. If there are 220 flowers on a cup, as there are for Afghanistan, then 220 Afghani men have been detained. On the bottom of each up is the name of one detained man and his country of citizenship.


Tea performances are held during exhibitions and as independent events.  If you would like information on upcoming Tea Performances, go to www.tea-project.org/

EXPO CHICAGO in conjunction with Human Wrights Watch — Chicago, IL — 2017
Weinberg/Newton Gallery — Chicago, IL — 2017
Ohio University School of Art & Design — Athens, OH — 2017
Majestic Gallery — Nelsonville, OH — 2017
George Washington University — Washington, D.C. — 2017

University of Wisconsin — Parkside, Wisconsin — 2017
Northwestern University — Chicago, Illinois — 2016

Links Hall — Chicago, Illinois — 2016
College of the Redwoods — Eureka, CA — 2016
Afghan Peace Volunteers — Kabul, Afghanistan — 2015
Craft and Folk Art Museum — Los Angeles, CA — 2015
The Museum of Craft and Design — San Francisco, California — 2015
The Imaginists — Santa Rosa, California — 2015
University of California — Merced, California — 2015
Indiana University — Gary, Indiana — 2014
Lawrence Art Center — Lawrence, Kansas — 2014
High Concept Laboratories — Chicago, Illinois — 2014